Winston Peters has done us all a favour, or rather he has confirmed what I suspected all along, which is that the other side of lazy political opportunism is political cowardice.
The Machiavellian has risen from the lagoon with his seemingly absurd tweet, which has already been covered here on TS. However, even more telling is how his new buddies Seymour and Luxon decided to stay hidden in the dirt. Not even Mark Mitchell’s special anti-gang grooming kit can cover up the stench of this political cowardice.
Peters’ ploy aimed to gain more support and influence for himself and his party, which is known for its nationalist and anti-immigration stance. It demonstrates Peters’ Machiavellian indifference to morality and his strategic focus on self-interest.
Peters also created a diversion and distraction from the issues that are affecting his own party and reputation, such as the Serious Fraud Office investigation into the New Zealand First Foundation, the resignation of some of his MPs in 2021 (Tracey Martin and Jenny Marcroft), and the low polling of his party relative to the parties of his buddies, ACT and National, and without the usual margin or bounce in the provisional election results vs. the opinion polls. Of course, Peters is also trying to appeal to his core voters and donors, who may share his views on immigration and national security. All this is to maintain and strengthen his role as the kingmaker in New Zealand politics. This is another example of Machiavellianism, as it shows Peters’ manipulativeness and cynicism.
Peters was trying to assert his independence and authority as the Deputy Prime Minister and the leader of a coalition partner, in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, which had given Jacinda Ardern a lot of power and popularity – so much, in fact, that Winston Peters and his party were booted from Parliament altogether in the 2020 General Election. By doing so, Peters is trying to move the boundaries of the pending coalition negotiations and influence the budding relationship with Seymour and Luxon in his favour. This is another Machiavellian trait of Peters and it shows his arrogance and aggressiveness.
Clearly, Seymour, Luxon, and their advisors have no suitable public response to Peters’ highly politically motivated actions. Or they decided to play it safe and not provoke to irascible character. Not since John Key’s much-lauded political pragmatism, which was actually political opportunism, have we witnessed such lack of integrity, morality, and political fortitude.
This does not bode well for New Zealand politics.